By: ADAM WAHEED
With the cost of owning a car or motorcycle creeping upwards every year, affordable, reliable and economical transportation is becoming increasingly necessary. And for those looking for a machine to meet these prerequisites, one only needs to look at the 2010 Honda SH150i scooter.
Although the SH150i is new here in the States, folks over in Europe have been riding it for the last few years. In fact, in Italy, it’s currently the best-selling scooter not just in Honda’s line-up but in the country’s entire scooter segment.
Within the Honda scooter line, the SH150i is slotted in between the interstate cruising capabilities of the Honda Silver Wing and the inner city aptitude of the soon-to-be-released Honda Elite. It’s built for a person looking for a transportation option that can keep pace with other motorized traffic, whether in the sprawled expanse of the suburbs or the concrete
jungle of the city.
Powering this mid-sized scoot is a fuel sipping 153cc single-cylinder 4-stroke engine. It benefits from many of Honda’s modern engine tuning techniques including an overhead camshaft, liquid-cooling and fuel-injection. It’s mated to an automatic transmission, which makes traveling to your destination literally as easy as twisting your wrist. Turn the key, grab either brake lever, prod the starter button and the engine zips right up with about as much noise as grandma’s sewing machine. No doubt about it, this Honda scoot is one quiet machine and it stays that way regardless – be it idling at a stop light or zipping around at full speed.
In terms of acceleration, whether you feed in the throttle gently or slam it open the SH150i accelerates the same. Initially power comes on softly, then right around 10 mph, you can feel it advance with a tad more authority, yet it always smooth and never feels intimidating. While it won’t win any drag races against a driver with a lead foot, you might surprise the
SUV commander next to you. In fact, unless they’re on their game, the little SH will usually getaway first. It isn’t until around 40 mph that your neighbor in the 4000 pound tank has gathered enough steam to pass.
On level road with this 180-pound pilot, the SH will accelerate to right around 65 mph in roughly 15 seconds without a hint of vibration. Add a steep downgrade and speed increases another 10 mph. In fact, is speed is high enough for it to be operated on the freeway. Even at maximum speed the rear view mirrors deliver a decent buzz-free picture of what’s happening behind you, plus the scooter tracks straight without a hint of instability. Uphill the SH manages to muster a minimum of 60 mph. And unlike other mid-sized scooters we’ve tested, it actually accelerates as you climb up. At speed wind buffeting effects are minimal, however, a $299.95 accessory windscreen is still available for purchase.
Since scooters fitted with an automatic transmission have negligible engine braking, it’s important to have effective brakes and we’re pleased to report that this is just another attribute of the SH. Up front it uses a single 220mm disc which gets clamped by a twin-piston caliper hydraulically actuated with the right hand lever. The rear wheel is controlled via a less reactive drum-style brake featuring Honda’s Combined Braking System (CBS) in which the rear brake is linked to the front.
What this means is that whenever the left-hand side brake lever is pressed the scooter automatically applies the front brake. Conversely, when the rider squeezes the right-hand brake lever it only initiates the front brake without any linking effect.
Grab the left brake lever (combined rear/front brake effect) by itself and stopping distance isn’t that impressive, but is superior to just using the rear brake on a typical motorcycle. One plus of the system is that even if you panic and tug the lever all the way to the bar (as long as the road is dry) you have almost no chance of locking up either wheel thereby allowing you to maintain forward control.
Squeeze the front brake lever however, and you’ll observe just how effective it is at slowing you even from top speed. Squeeze both levers together and stopping distances is reduced further thus becoming the preferred method for ensuring quick, safe stops. Average sized riders will appreciate how much room there is while seated and even my
6-foot tall frame wasn’t cramped at the controls of the SH. Also the distance between the rider and the handlebars is short, which translates into a very relaxed riding position with your elbows resting to the side naturally.
There is also a sensible amount of leg room and some cleverly placed cargo hooks built into the firewall to allow storage of say a grocery bag, or whatever else you might be lugging around. Additional storage for a half-helmet is available underneath the seat accessed by turning the ignition key counter-clockwise. A $268.95 rear trunk Honda accessory adds even more storage capacity.
In spite of weighing over 300 lbs, this scooter it is very easy to lift up and down off its center stand. Due to the way in which a scooter’s powertrain is mounted in the chassis its weight is carried low, which helps make it feel balanced. The SH150i also changes direction predictably with very little rider effort. It also feels narrow allowing you to slice right through city traffic. In fact, through a crowded city street, you’d be hard pressed to find a vehicle that can get through traffic faster than this Honda scoot.
Typically scooter suspension errs on the soft side and the SH150i continues the trend. Both ends of the machine offer over 3-inches of travel and do an admirable job of reducing the effects of rolling over broken pavement or a series of raised pavement markers. Its soft wide seat also helps mitigate effects of a rough road.
Overall fit and finish is on par with its $4499 price tag. All of its switches are placed logically and are simple to manipulate without taking your eyes off the road. We also appreciated its easy-to-read dash display which contains a swept analog-style speedometer (that optimistically reads up to 100 mph), a fuel and engine coolant temperature gauge, odometer, trip meter and digital clock. General warning lights for the turn signals and headlight high beam are laid above and it also features a nifty oil-change required light, so you’ll know when it’s time for service.
We’re really impressed with Honda’s new scooter and after spending some time at its controls our biggest question is why it took Honda so long to bring it here to the States. If you’re looking for an easy, affordable scooter that can truly keep up with the Jones, the SH150i is it.
Originally published in July 2009 on Motorcycle-USA.com